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Working From Home

Approximately 42% of Americans have reported working remotely. Even before the COVID-19 outbreak forced many people to transition to working entirely at home, 1 in 6 people spent their time working from home full time or during half of their work weeks. It’s predicted that many employers will continue their “work from home” strategies regardless of pandemics, so making sure employees have a space that allows them to successfully do their work is crucial for their own health and for the companies.

While working remotely has numerous benefits for employees and employers, there are certainly some downfalls. One of these downfalls can be seemingly unexplainable or brand new aches and pains. You probably thought you’d never miss your clunky office chair or tacky old desk, but they were likely designed to keep you in an ergonomically-friendly position that reduced the strains that can be put on the body by poor work posture. 

Remote Workforce

Low Back Pain helpIf you are one of many who switched from a workstation to a workstation on your couch – this information is for you. You’ve worked from home for years and have had persistent pain in your back, hips, shoulders, wrists, or anywherethis information is for you. You’re an employer who has seen a decline in your employees’ efficiency and performance – this information is for you!

As working from home becomes more common, it is critical to create a workstation that keeps your posture relaxed in order to work efficiently. It is all too easy to allow yourself to do your work from the couch, or propped up in bed with half of your focus on Season 5 of Game of Thrones and the other half on your 5th Zoom meeting of the week. It sounds great, but those positions greatly compromise your posture, putting unnecessary and damaging strain on your body.

Workstation Setup for Success

The first part of proper work ergonomics is to ensure that you give yourself a place that is strictly for work. Being out of your usual work space and routine can make it difficult to focus on the tasks at hand. Make sure that you are able to set up a space in your home that is dedicated to work, such as a home office or a specific space at the kitchen table. To help with the mental aspect of working from home, most people also prefer to start their day with a clean slate, a desk free of clutter from the day before. 

90-90-90 Position

Once you have established a good work area, set up yourself for productivity. This is where the 90- 90- 90 rule comes into play. Make sure to keep your knees, hips, and elbows as close to 90 degrees as possible. If your desk is not aligned with your elbows, it is encouraged to get a small pad in front of the keyboard for wrist support as well. Furthermore, a detachable keyboard is key in this scenario to prevent you from reaching up to type or use a mouse. This position helps prevent your shoulders from rolling forward and your neck from protruding.

When setting up your work area for a full day of work, paying attention to the height of your screen(s) is a high priority. The top third of your laptop screen should be in line with your eyes, which means that you are not slouching forward or looking downwards to comfortably see the screen.

To encourage proper seated posture, make sure that your hips and knees are each at about a 90 degree angle. Feet should be able to rest comfortably on the floor. Having an adjustable chair can assist in proper hip and leg alignment. Additionally, using a pillow or some form of lumbar reinforcement behind the back can provide support to the spine and keep optimal spinal curvatures.

If your work-at-home situation is going to be long term, investing in the proper chair, desk and computer will pay huge dividends. If not, you can always spend your money on co-pays at the chiropractor.

Dr. Robert “Bo”Andel
Chiropractic Physician

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